Islamabad admin bans activities endangering Margalla Hills environment, natural habitat

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My Waste, My Responsibility’ campaign in full swing


Zubair Qureshi

The Islamabad Capital Territory administration has banned smoking, bonfires/BBQs, setting garbage on fire or carrying flammable items such as matchstick, lighters, charcoal and bottles of petrol or kerosene oil prohibiting an activity or action that could cause forest fire in the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP).

The step was taken in view of the ongoing campaign, “My Waste, My Responsibility” launched by the IWMB which is in full swing.

Diplomats, celebrities, volunteers and civil society are taking part in the cleanliness drive during the May 8-16 lockdown days.

The campaign will continue until May 16 (today), said Manager Operation of the IWMB, Sakhawat Ali adding the Board will not only clean all the main trails, six trails, but will also go deep inside to remove garbage from the comparatively less trodden paths.

Chairperson of the IWMB Rina S Khan in a tweet said the volunteers were playing their role to implement the campaign in MHNP.

Not only the UK mission, but Canada, France, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, Indonesia, Austria and other missions in Islamabad have volunteered in the cleanliness of the hills highlighting the littering and negligence issues off and on.

High Commissioner of Canada Wendy Gilmour in a tweet also participated in the cleanliness drive and posted pictures in which she could be seen along with her Dutch colleague Wouter Plomp and other diplomats with bags of trash removed from the picturesque hills.
Wendy termed the Margalla Hills “a precious resource for Islamabad.

“I am happy to volunteer in the Margalla Hills with diplomatic colleagues for the Islamabad Wildlife Board, said Wendy Gilmour.

According to the district government’s notification, the violator(s) may face jail term up to one month or fine under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) 1898.

While talking to Pakistan Observer, Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat said the ICT had issued a notification in April banning all kinds of environmentally hazardous practices for two months from April 4 to June 4, 2021 but it was being effectively implemented from the current week.

We have decided a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for those who litter the picturesque hills causing damage to the environment as well as the natural habitat of the hills, he said.

According to a fresh notification, the capital police will now assist the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) in enforcing the environmental laws.

The district administration and police will be monitoring the MHNP and its various trails and tracks in collaboration with the teams of the IWMB.

The MHNP is the third largest national park in the world with an area of 17,386 hectares (42,960 acres) or 173.9 sq.km.

The District Magistrate’s order has come in follow-up of the United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner’s last Friday (May 7) tweet in which he had posted his picture with the caption: Another Friday morning walk, another two bags of litter.

In the picture the British envoy could be seen carrying two bags full of trash removed from the Margalla Hills.

After the picture went viral on social media stirring up a campaign not only among the civil society and diplomatic community, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and the ICT teams also organized a drive for cleanliness of MHNP, its walking tracks, hiking trails, paths taken or not taken so far.

While commending the ICT administration’s swift response to his tweet, Dr Christian Turner thanked the DC for taking prompt action.

The British head of the mission said he was humbled by many posts in response to his tweet and lauded the ICT administration for issuing the notification that prohibits all kind of hazardous practices inside the MHNP.